The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) -Ahmedabad has decided to demolish 14 of its bedrooms designed by legendary American architect Louis Kahn in the 1960s, saying they have become “unsafe” to live in due to “structural deterioration and deterioration.”
The institute said that these bedrooms have suffered damage beyond repair over the years, due to various reasons, including the 2001 earthquake and water leaks.
Kahn, a world famous architect, had been called to Ahmedabad by the renowned scientist Vikram Sarabhai to design various buildings. IIM-A was one of the iconic buildings that he built in the 1960s.
The director of the IIM-A, Errol D’Souza, in a letter to the alumni, has shared the photographs of the exhausted state of the iconic brick structures of around 60 years.
“We felt it was necessary to keep you informed as we are the custodians of Louis Kahn buildings that have the potential to inspire future generations. During the last two decades, buildings have suffered structural deterioration and deterioration, ”he said.
“The earthquake at the beginning of the millennium and the filtration of water due to aging and deterioration of the exposed brick walls has caused large cracks in the masonry and periodic detachment of it in fragments. They are unsafe to live, ”he said.
“We have faced questions about why we should assume that the past is unchanging and why we should assume that future generations will value things in exactly the same way as past generations. We wonder if it is appropriate for us to colonize future perceptions of living spaces, ”he added.
“It has not been easy to deal with the problems that have arisen as we try to restore these buildings,” D’Souza said in the 11-page letter.
“As is well known, Kahn did not use concrete liners to protect the rebar embedded in the masonry and this has led to rusting of the bars and cracks in the masonry. The bricks used were not the best of their kind and had built-in efflorescence.
“The bricks used by Kahn were what the architects call second-class bricks according to IS 3102-1971 with an average compressive strength of 4.89 N / mm2 and with built-in efflorescence,” the letter read.
“The pointer that was used to hide the blunt edges of the bricks was damaged and allowed water to collect, resulting in entry into the masonry. The 2001 earthquake, among other things, posed challenges to the structural stability of buildings, ”he said.
“We have tried to address these issues with the best team of conservation architects anyone could ask for: SNK (Somaya & Kalappa Consultants). We had invited international restoration consultants Peter Inskip and Stephen Gee to advise us and they suggested that we first restore one building and then based on our findings we could continue work on other buildings.
“We decided to restore bedroom 15 and the library.
Wherever cracks were found, they were sewn together with stainless steel helical bars. Where the cracks were deep, the face bricks were removed and new brick work was done. In some cases, such as the flat arches on the east facade of the library, they were completely renovated with stainless steel reinforcement, ”he said.
“After completing the complex work, we were curious about the longevity of the buildings. We appointed an independent structural consultant, who was of the opinion that the compressive and tensile stresses in the walls exceed the limits according to the requirements of the IS coda: 1905-1987 and that the buildings are not safe, ”he said.
After lengthy deliberations, it was decided to commit to doing whatever was necessary to restore the core of the Louis Kahn buildings, the library, the faculty wings, the classroom complex, and the dormitories on the periphery of the building system.
For the other bedrooms, however, it was decided to be guided by three imperatives: (1) functional needs, (2) cultural heritage and (3) available resources, he added.
“After much circumspection, we have decided to restore Dorms 16 to 18. Together with the restored Dormitory 15, as you will recall, they constitute the periphery of the constructed campus and are the first buildings that people entering the campus see and understand alongside the LKP and associated buildings such as the grandeur associated with Kahn’s work.
“For the other bedrooms (1 to 14) that are in the inner core, we will invite architects from around the world to present us with options on how we should go about making new bedrooms,” said D’Souza.